Has advertising gone too far?

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Planters introduced “Baby Nut” Feb. 2, after the brand’s original mascot, Mr. Peanut, died at the age of 104. The ad campaign’s introduction of Baby Nut was originally postponed due to the untimely death of former Lakers player Kobe Bryant, according to the HuffPost. While for some, this may seem unethical when it stems from popular culture, changes in advertising strategies is absolutely necessary to a company’s survival and relevancy in a society that is constantly moving to the next best thing. 

Brands lie in uncertainty if consumers will purchase their products if they are not advertised to fit current trends. So far in 2020, Disney’s series “The Mandalorian” brought “The Child” to popular culture which has been unofficially labeled as “Baby Yoda.” Numerous memes and references have dominated the internet since, and it appears Planters has embraced this cute child trend to create the new face of the company, Baby Nut. The company seized this advertising opportunity, and as a result, Baby Nut hashtag trended on Twitter, according to the HuffPost, as well as having thousands of reactionary tweets for and against the character.

Consumers expect companies to keep up with the times, and because change occurs rapidly, companies feel pressured to make changes that appeal to consumers. According to Brandfolder, one of the most important company rebrands, or advertising strategy, in the past year was Taco Bell. Not only did Taco Bell switch its logo from bold purples and yellows to a refined design and neutral color scheme, it changed its storefronts as well. Now, the interior design of almost all Taco Bells is simpler and more modern. If Taco Bell had not rebranded by changing its design and updating its menus, it most likely would have been lost in the world of fast food. 

Consumers see a snippet of what company rebranding looks like every single year in February, even though it might be temporary. Some companies change their advertising strategy for the holidays to get people to buy from them during the seasonal rush. During this time, companies include heart icons and push people to pop the big question using their gifts in quite literally everything they put out. If a child sees a gigantic box of candy with their favorite non-fictional or fictional character on it, they probably want it. While this may not be ethical to child favorites, it can boost sales.

Advertising directed at children is an ethical dilemma that many advertisers ignore. It is unethical to advertise to children because it takes advantage of a child’s innocence, according to alana.org. Children are still developing, so often they do not recognize the way advertisers try to persuade people to buy their products. According to alana.org, because children are still developing, they do not know how to question the value of products, and just accept the advertisements at their face value: Children cannot see the different layers that companies have, or decide fully if they should make the purchase and support them. This can often be damaging to young children because it could cause them to over-consume advertisements.

While advertising may not be necessarily ethical, it is necessary in order for a company to survive in the consumer-driven world we live in. If companies cannot trend on Twitter for a day or put out brand new menus or logos, then they inevitably will lose a portion of their buyers to competing companies. It’s a dog-eat-dog market out there, and companies have to compete to survive. It has come as an expectation for companies to update their output: If consumers do not see companies updating their products or the way the companies advertise their products, the consumers lose interest. One could argue the companies are doing the driving of the competitive market, that they are creating their own issues by trying to outsell competitors. The consumers are ultimately the ones who are dictating the survival of companies. As Taco Bell’s situation displayed, rebranding can positively affect their media presence; Taco Bell was named one of the healthiest fast-food chains in America and met with praise because of the rebrand, according to Brandfolder.

While Baby Nut has been enjoying its moment on the brains of the masses, another company has been figuring out how to advertise to get their five minutes of fame. The circle will always continue, at the expense of taking advantage of popular trends and the ever changing reality. 

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